Mostly flat water, maybe class II whitewater. Something non restricting and cool in the heat. I tried out a friend’s Astral and it was very comfortable! I think it might have been a Tempo 200???
Do you guys in Alabama really wear these thing?
Sorry I can’t give you any advice but look around and try a bunch of them on.
I’ll see you on the lake soon
Like fitting a backpack or choosing a pair of shoes; it’s not one size or brand fits all. Brands to look at: Extrasport, Stohlquist, Astral, Kokatat, Palm USA, PeakUK, etc. Everyone has a favorite, sorry if I left out someone’s fav brand.
You gotta try them on to know if it works for you. And if you’re going to try them on, make sure your outfitter knows what he/she is doing, or make sure you know how to adjust them properly yourself.
PFD and paddling style
The choice of PFD usually goes back to each persons’ paddling style, especially their body mechanics. The average bear will have a very straight ahead paddling style and differing levels of torso rotation, so some PFD’s will literally rub them the wrong way. Advanced canoeists have might use angled stationing and different bio-mechanics so the same PFD interacts with their movement differently. There is an infinite number of paddling styles and different PFD’s fit each style differently. My preferences have changed over the years as my style changed.
The only universal I suggest is to choose a PFD that allows enough freedom of movement so that you can paddle well under control. This is a safety issue.
If you see someone eschewing the use of PFD’s it’s probably because they’ve never found a compatible PFD to their paddling style.
Hope this helps.
PFD turrets syndrome
I’ll go way out on a limb and make a bet that any “good” brand of paddling-specific PFD will be plenty comfortable as long as it fits properly. I tried on a few when I bought mine, and among those I tried, I found that there could be a miniscule amount of difference in how much contact my upper arm might make with the PFD when rowing with crossed oar handles, or when reaching across the boat for off-side paddling. It was hardly enough of a difference to choose one in preferance to another. As far as torso-twisting being an issue, a PFD should fit snugly around your rib cage, and that part of your body does not move or bend anyway. You can twist and bend all you want, and a PFD strapped around your ribs won’t scuff at all. I can imagine that the movement of your shoulder blades might be an issue if you are very thin, however, so I won’t say there’s no reason to try out several styles. “Try before you buy” is always good if that’s an option. If it’s not an option, I wouldn’t lose too much sleep over the decision.
One thing you might look for is a PFD with a very small back panel. With that style, the back panel only occupies the space behind your shoulders, so more of your back remains uncovered. That might be a nice option in hot weather.